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The passion for dance shines through at sisters Sruthi and Swetha Vamaraju’s arangetram, writes LASYA IYER
Unwavering dedication and a passion for the art form overrides all obstacles leading to achieving your dreams. This was put to test and proven right at the arangetram of dancing sisters Sruthi and Swetha Vamaraju that ascended the stage on 22 April at The Science Theatre, University of New South Wales.
Invoking the blessing of the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, through a vritham defined by sculpturesque poses, Swetha and Sruthi warmed up to a beautiful Jathiswaram set in Ragam Chakravaham. Perfectly synchronised movements reflecting the hard work invested by the two was clearly evident in their presentation.
Swetha and Sruthi were in their element as they narrated the story of the warrior princess Meenakshi through the exquisite varanam mathe in ragam Khamas. Alternating theermanams in jathis and characters in the narration through role-play, the duo brought to life the stories of the multitalented Meenakshi growing up to meet her match in Lord Sundareshwara.
The inevitable struggle between good and evil in the powerful portrayal of Mahishasura Mardhini followed, culminating in the chants of Ayigiri nandini and Ya devi sarva bhutheshu. Prema Anandakrishnan with her voice ringing like temple bells created an atmosphere of spiritual serenity.
‘Shri Raghuvara’, a composition of Saint Thyagaraja, made a majestic and grand entry in the second half. Contrasting two aspects of the emotional state of love, Sruthi painted the picture of the vasikasajjika nayika, the lady that is unconditional in love, and Swetha portrayed the khandita nayika, the lady that questions and is more demanding in her expectations.
Both Sruthi and Swetha were intensely involved in the expression of their solo pieces stamping their individuality with soulful pining and biting sarcasm.
It was an interesting choice of numbers in the second half in the Telugu language, being the mother tongue of the girls, perhaps helping them internalise the meaning and express themselves with ease.
‘Hariyum haranum’ made an appealing penultimate piece emphasizing the advaita philosophy of the oneness of the Hindu pantheon of Gods. The performance concluded with a Thillana in ragam Hindolam.
“Leading up to the arangetram there were a few challenges,” confessed the girls. “Sickness, a torn calf muscle led to moments of doubt, and rehearsals started to become very stressful! At this time the thing that kept us going was our passion for dance, with Padma Aunty believing in us more than what we did in ourselves.”
Expressing their gratitude to their guru Padma Balakumar who was their mentor, the girls also echoed their thanks to senior student of Nrithyagriha, Malavika for keeping them motivated and inspired.
The parents, the Vamarajus, guru, Padma Balakumar and the sisters Sruthi and Swetha were unanimous in their appreciation of the support provided by the musicians that seamlessly carried the performance through.
Seasoned vocalist Prema Anandakrishnan, vocalist Gopi Iyer, though introduced as a new comer to singing for dance, made an indelible mark and the instrumentalists, Balaji Jagannadhan on violin, Venkhatesh Sritharan on flute, Soumya Sritharan on veena and Janakan Suthanthiraraj on mridangam serenaded in perfect harmony.
“The driver of this arangetram would most certainly be our passion for dance that we have developed over the years,” claim the sisters cheerfully.
They look ahead with optimism wanting to continue the learning journey and hopefully teach the art to the generations to come.